Defining something is to give meaning to it.
What is church? Church is a group of people who are called out from all spheres of life (ethnos) and with different backgrounds into a new government, the kingdom of God. They are called out into a new way of doing things in a foreign land. Every time God calls people out into His family, He does it to give them the power to influence.
Paul explains "influence" through the Salt metaphor. When salt enters anything, it changes its taste and also preserves it. The words of people who have been called out are seasoned with salt. These people are the light of the world without which the world would have no direction.
The difficulties come when the Called-out do not know why they have been called. It becomes difficult when they do not know the basics of church: i.e. what church is, and why church exists.
The principle of value
In life there is only one element that carries value, and this element is God. Everything else that we do carries no value and amounts to zero (0). Miracles begin to happen only when God is number one (1) in our lives. Though there is nothing wrong in adding other things to life, they will remain valueless unless we put God first and the value of one's life can be measured by checking the place he puts God (1). When God is placed first and everything else added to Him, one's life gains value. (e.g.1000). On the other hand, when everything else is placed before God, one's life decreases in value (e.g. 0001). It is therefore important to do things according to their priorities, with God taking first priority. Once priorities have been set right, one starts to fly like a rocket shot in the correct direction. The called-out need to learn that the Lord is the only Lord and carries all the power; He is the owner of everything. Nobody is a big deal but the Lord alone is. Knowing this leads to a life of humility.
Bringing the people back to proper worship of the Lord
True religion must be re-established before Christ comes back. True worship is not only about singing, praying, giving and attending church. Although all is part of it, true worship is gigantic. Worship is the heart of everything. The way we treat God determines how He will treat us. In Haggai 1:2, He calls the people of Israel "These people". The way He refers to them depicts his disappointment about what they are saying.
God uses such strong language because there is more to worship than only having a building erected for Him.
How will God call you in 2011? How will he look up on you from heaven? Will He call you my son, my daughter?
We need to strive to never be in a position where God will refer to us as "these people"
Let us encourage one another to readjust our approach toward the house of the Lord. In that way, we will be blessed.
To be blessed is to obey God fully and keep His covenant. Blessing does not come because someone said a word of blessing to you but it is obtained through obedience and the observation of covenant. When we obey and observe the covenant that we have with God, we become God's treasured possession. To be wise is to move into the category of God's treasured people - His holy nation and priests.
Many have forgotten why God has chosen them. They worry more about themselves than rebuilding the house of God. They attend church services out of habit and never think of ways to promote it.
2 CHRONICLES 6:12-21
As Solomon says in his prayer, God keeps his covenant with people who are wholeheartedly committed to his ways rather than those who only attend church. (v14)
Why must the Lord's house be restored in the first place?
The purpose of the local church is to teach the ways of God so that His people may walk in His path. Restoring the church is not about building a church made out of gold but it is about drawing God's attention to a specific location; a place where He can display His authority, a place where mercy and grace flow. The church is the centre where ways of life start. When Church is done properly, it gives power to change circumstances.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
A true child who is filled with the Word of God does not complain about his situation for he has received a mandate to change whatever he sees that is not going well. If your life is the highway through which God travels, then you are called blessed for you will be able to change dry places into rainy land. A church is a powerful entity but people have to wake up to this, opening their eyes to the reality of heaven. When the church begins to understand that it's not the condition we are in that counts but who we carry, then we will cease to complain about what is not there but focussing on who is there.
"If God is for me who can be against me?"
"In that day, "I will restore David's fallen shelter- I will repair its broken walls
and restore its ruins- and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that bear my name," declares the LORD, who will do these things."
God says "I want to restore the church (what was broken) to give my people authority to go and posses what is not under my control yet." It will be an amazing day when we stand in the presidency, in parliament, in tertiary institutions and talk the Christian language. It will be a great day when in families we begin to pray before starting the day and pray again when we end it. It will be great a day when people who are not under God's authority are brought back under his authority.
You and I are the community of restoration who will bring back those who are far from God. When church is done properly, these people will want to know about God.